Workplaces still operating during the lockdown are to be further encouraged to take up the offer of rapid workplace testing, ensuring Covid-19 infections among those working in these businesses can be detected and acted on even if those infected are not showing symptoms.
Under the current government criteria for rapid workplace testing eligibility, any business with more than 50 employees, from both the public and private sector, can request support to set up rapid testing capacity.
Previously it had been open to organisations with more than 250 employees.
Currently 112 UK organisations, operating across almost 500 sites, have joined government-backed rapid testing to date.
Organisations already working with the Government to set up rapid workplace testing are from a wide range of sectors, from transport networks to food manufacturers.
Rapid testing is seen as an essential part of the national coronavirus response, helping to identify asymptomatic cases and breaking chains of transmission which otherwise could have permitted continued spread of infection within community settings.
Alongside the boost to rapid workplace testing, and the reducing of the minimum eligibility threshold, the Government has reiterated its advice that all those capable of working remotely from home should do so.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “To save lives and protect the NHS, we have again asked for everyone to work from home. But we know that for some this is not possible, which is why the workplace rapid testing programme is so important.
“Employers should regularly test their staff, and this drive across government to raise awareness and encourage more businesses to introduce rapid testing for employees is incredibly important. When you consider that around one in three people have the virus without symptoms and could potentially infect people without even knowing it, it becomes clear why focusing testing on those without symptoms is so essential.
“We are already working with many employers to scale up workforce testing, spanning the food industry, retail sector, transport network, and across the public sector too. I strongly urge businesses and employees across the country to take up this offer of rapid testing to help stop this virus spreading further.”